Monday, 31 March 2014

Nut and Vegetarian Mince Loaf - a good slicer

First, an acknowledgement of the source of this recipe. It's a suggested Christmas loaf from Mary McCartney and the link was tweeted by @MeatFreeMonday. I have adapted the ingredients and method mildly and altered timings, and when I made it, this amount would serve 5-6. We really liked it; Mr P is not one for nut loaves usually, but I persuaded him that he likes every single ingredient and it went very well.

Although I work quite quickly in the kitchen, the loaf took 1 hour 45 minutes from start to serving, which is a little longer than the original - planned to serve it with The Archers but it wasn't ready, so 7.15 it was. This timing includes an hour's baking, so plenty of time to sort out the veg. I served it with baby hasselback potatoes (cooked in the oven for the last 35 mins) and broccoli, with a packet cheese sauce - Asda do a good one, not too calorific, which just requires addition of boiling water.

There are no complicated procedures - ingredients are added one by one to a single saucepan, then cooled briefly before piling into the baking tin.

Nut and Vegetarian Mince Loaf
 A 2lb (larger of the two common sizes) loaf tin is needed, lined with baking parchment. The oven will need to be at 175C, middle shelf.

2 tbsp oil
2 medium onions, peeled & finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, trimmed & finely chopped
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted*
50g walnut pieces, chopped finely
100g cooked chopped chestnuts (e.g. canned or vacuum packed, or cook from raw)
125g vegetarian mince (I used Quorn)
3 tbsp chopped fresh sage (or thyme leaves)
125g bread pulsed into fine crumbs
150ml vegetarian stock
3 eggs, lightly beaten together
scant tsp salt
plenty of ground black pepper

* To toast the nuts, put in a small dry pan over a moderate heat and stir frequently until they start to brown, then remove from heat. Takes only about 3 mins.

1  Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onions and celery and sautee for 5 mins.
2  Add the pine nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, mince and sage. Stir well and sautee gently
         for a further 10 mins.
3  Stir in the breadcrumbs and continue cooking for 10 mins more, stirring often.
4  Add the stock and mix well, then cook just a further couple of minutes.
5  Tip the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool for 5 mins (so the eggs don't cook).
6  Add the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well, then tip into the loaf tin, smooth over
         and press down with the back of a spoon.
7  Bake for 30 mins, then turn out upside down onto a baking sheet. Remove the
         parchment and return to the oven for a further 30 mins. The edges should be
         golden and a little crispy.
8  This slices better if then left for 5 mins, and a sharp knife will be needed. The loaf
         slices really well when cold, too - like this:

I wouldn't tinker much with this recipe now that it works for me - it's a keeper. But you could add three peeled and crushed garlic cloves, or - to make it more festive - say 2 tbsp of chunky cranberry sauce. Or Branston pickle. Or horseradish sauce. Red wine could be used instead of stock, but I haven't tried that. As if!

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